Marking and misbehaviour in Australian classrooms – TALIS 2018

Embed from Getty Images

So the results of the OECD’s Teaching And Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 have just been released. This survey asks a comparable sample of teachers in each OECD country about their teaching practices, characteristics and experience of the job. There is a lot of data to crunch.

The results for Australia are interesting. Only 45% of teachers feel ‘well prepared’ or ‘very well prepared’ for student behaviour and classroom management. That’s significantly lower than the OECD average. This is despite a large number stating that the subject was included in their teacher training. This may be explained if we accept that there is a world of difference between simply including a subject and dealing with it adequately.

Although 82% of Australian teachers feel they can control disruptive behaviour in the classroom, this is significantly lower than the OECD average. I am not surprised by the high percentages on this question across the OECD, given the stigma associated with admitting you have lost control of your classes. Meanwhile, 29% of Australian teachers ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that they lose ‘quite a lot of time’ because of students interrupting the lesson. Although shockingly high, that’s actually bang on the OECD average.

Interestingly, the worst place for student behaviour appears to be Brazil where 50% of teachers agree or strongly agree that they lose quite a lot of time because of students interrupting the lesson. This is despite 91% feeling they can control disruptive behaviour. What’s going on there? And even in exalted Finland, the reported loss of class time to student interruptions is above the OECD average.

Australia seems to have caught marking mania from England. A whopping 83% of Australian teachers frequently or always ‘provide written feedback on student work in addition to a mark’, up from 75% in 2013. This means Australia now leads the OECD in maniacal marking, having eclipsed England, which was the previous league leader and has held steady at roughly 82%.

This is despite there being no strong evidence for the practice of writing written comments on student work. People often confuse this with providing ‘feedback’ which is supported by evidence, even if the effects can be mixed, but feedback can be provided in a whole lot of different ways and there is no reason to think that writing comments on work is a particularly good strategy. It also happens to consume vast amounts of teacher time.


5 thoughts on “Marking and misbehaviour in Australian classrooms – TALIS 2018

  1. Rebecca Birch says:

    My teacher for classroom behaviour at UTS had experience controlling behaviour at SCEGGS Redlands. Needless to say, when students returned from prac asking what they do when students throw chairs, he didn’t have much to contribute.

  2. Tom Burkard says:

    One aspect of the behaviour problem which receive far too little attention is the relative scarcity of teachers who have any experience outside the education bubble. From the age of 5 (if not before), the classroom dominates their days–and few teachers working today have much (if any) experience of classrooms in the top two classifications of Terry Haydn’s 10-point scale. Few employers outside of education would tolerate even the low-level disruption that most teachers take for granted.

    There’s not a lot that can be done about this–I can’t imagine any government offering incentives for teachers to work outside the profession either before or during a career in education. The low salaries for NQTs discourage mature recruits.

    Another problem which receives too little attention is the central role of effective teaching–pupils who are making rapid progress academically do not, as a rule, misbehave. We’ve recently written a post for the Parents and Teachers for Excellence blog illustrating this point: blog

  3. Pingback: Political behaviour – Filling the pail

  4. Hi Greg, thanks for this thought provoking article. In terms of marking, although cross-marking was not the focus of your article, it got me thinking… Do you know of any evidence based articles that support cross-marking samples of student work, to support teacher teams to develop more consistent marking? Rather than having teachers mark in isolation? My anecdotal experience is that improved student outcomes are achieved where teacher teams cross mark samples, e.g. High, Medium, Low and they ‘blind-mark’ so as not to know which student’s work they have.
    This stimulates teacher discussion, removes ‘unconscious bias’ and develops a more consistent understanding of the suggested mark scheme. I note that I am leading a Humanities team, so we have short-answer questions and extended response questions.

    What do you think?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.